Tuesday, May 25, 2010
OK...So I am totally over this New York fan can't ever root for a Boston team; at least as far as basketball goes. As I followed the Celtics closely through the first three rounds especially in the semi's against Cleveland, I came to the realization of something. The Knicks' brass should do them selves a huge favor while rebuilding this team; Build another Celtics.
Currently the Knicks have some pieces that can mirror the Celtics slightly but are missing the key components of a winning team. This year, the Celtics are neither the deepest team or the most talented but they possess many winning characteristics that very few, if any, teams have.
Starting from the foundation and working our way up, we have the point guard: Rajon Rondo. This is one of the pieces the Knicks have nothing to compare to. Rondo has catapulted himself into the elites of the position and has impressed everyone with his ability to control a game as well as his future hall of fame teammates. Rondo has outplayed each counterpart at his position in all three series creating an automatic mismatch in which the Celtics have heavily relied on in their success thus far. Despite being shaky from the perimeter and the free throw line he has found ways to get teammates open shots, drive to the basket when needed, finish with contact, draw fouls and control the tempo impeccably. Any winning team needs to have a competent point guard and the Celtics certainly have that for the next few years.
It isn't imperative to have a scoring shooting guard, but it doesn't hurt either. Future hall of famer and third option on the Celtics, Ray Allen has done many things besides score to help the team win. Since the playoffs started Allen has thrown his game into another gear on both sides of the ball. Several possessions against the Cavs, he has switched onto LeBron and he did a more than adequate job. Ray Allen's defense has been a very unexpected surprise for the Celtics, much like that of Larry Johnson's when he came to the Knicks in 1997. Since the trading of Jamal Crawford the Knicks have not had a two guard that can really create his own shot let alone play solid defense on the perimeter. As much as I loved Jamal, I would never compare him to Ray Allen on either side of the ball. Aside from just being multi-talented, Ray provides a sense of calm for the Celtics in pressure situations with his sharp shooting touch from downtown and from the line.
So far, we have the back court and we've seen that these are two huge voids the Knicks have. As we move to the front court we may find more parallels. First we have the tenured vet, Paul Pierce. The truth, the leader, the first born of the big three, call it what you want. Pierce is the fan favorite in Boston and has proven that no task is too tall for him. Sometimes when I think of Pierce, i think back to his days of being a loose cannon ball hog who would be pouting on the bench around this time after losing to the Nets. Pierce has come a long way and deserves credit. while his already limited athletic ability seems to be abandoning him further, he still finds ways to use his high basketball IQ to out play his opponent. In this series, his victim is Vince Carter. If you checked the career numbers, they would be identical, possibly even a slight edge to Carter. But this series shows more than ever that substance over style is the winning formula. Take game one for example, Pierce scored 22 and Vince scored 23, the big difference lies in field goal attempts; Vince took 18 while Pierce only needed 8. Despite playing different positions, I would liken Pierce to David Lee. Now we may have seen Lee play his last game as a Knick, but some sources seem to believe he will be back. If the Knicks rebuild the way they would like to, I could see Lee taking on that roll of a leader like a Paul Pierce, being the longest tenured and certainly the fan favorite at this point. Lee possesses a high basketball IQ and has been on the New York stage for almost five years now.
Here is the guy that every fan and every player wishes they had on their team. Kevin Garnett. I think I respect him more now than I did in his prime. Yelling profanities up and down the court every time he scores, beating his chest psyching out his opponents, there could not be more of a gamer. Physically, he is a relic of his old self, but mentally he is much wiser and in my opinion that has made him a lot of efficient. Adding the mid range set shot to his repertoire has paid immediate dividends for he and the Celtics. Like Rondo, through the first three rounds, Garnett has presented an automatic mismatch to those he has faced in Michael Beasley, Antawn Jamison and Rashard Lewis. The power forward position has changed drastically since Kevin first entered the league, but fortunately for him, the change revolved around HIS talents. Now more than ever, PF's are leaner, quicker, more athletic and more jump shot oriented. In fact most player that are playing center in today's league would be power forwards in the 90's, such as David Lee. With a solid back to the basket game and the ability to hit the open jumper as well as find the open man, Garnett has been the heart and soul of the team, helping the Celtics defense to be solid as a rock.
The final piece is something that without, any team would be hard pressed to win a title; a strong defensive minded center. That takes us to Kendrick Perkins. Kendrick is a throwback type of play to me, in the sense that he is a true center defensively. Even more so than Dwight Howard Perkins is more of a defensive center because of his ability to guard the post as well as block shots. While Howard may be the only player to fill a stat sheet with defensive accolades, he doesn't posses the IQ to make plays and stay in games. I think Dwight gets away with a lot of mistakes defensively due to his freakish athleticism as well as the lack of size he competes against on a nightly basis. Going back to Perkins, first of all, any coach has to love his size. At 6'10 280 pounds, he becomes in immovable force down low with an extremely long wingspan. Perkins ranked in the top 10 this season in shot blocks while playing significantly less minutes than those ahead in that category. On the down side, Perkins does have the tendency to rack up fouls but unlike Howard, his fouls are from hard physical play as opposed to movement mistakes such as being pumped faked and jumped into by guards on the drive. Howard has been quoted to say that Perkins gives him the most trouble out of anyone in the league in their head to head match ups. Having Perkins at center prevents teams such a Cleveland and Orlando from having that automatic mismatch down low with their center's; Shaquille O'neal and Dwight Howard.
As we all know, the playoffs are all about match ups. It takes good coaching to recognize those match ups and exploit them. What you have seen here is a blueprint to a winning team. Only God knows what the Knicks roster will look like next year I just thought it might be a good idea to look no further than Boston to pick up a few ideas. I am well aware that the players they have over there in Bean-town only come around every so often and Kevin Garnett's are a dying breed. Nonetheless they are winners and the Knicks need to win. They started their rebuilding process 3 years too late and the fans have still waited around loyally.
LeBron or no LeBron, it's time for a change in New York. As a fan, I can only hope that the Knicks take that Celtic's formula into account while rebuilding. It takes a TEAM to win a ring, not just a LeBron James.
Posted by James Miller at 10:34 AM